India’s ace sprinter Dutee Chand is from a small village Chaka, Gopalpur district of Odisha and does not need an introduction. She proved her that hard work pays off just at the age of 11. Pursued sports as it would help her get a government job that’s how Dutee started running along the riverbank barefoot thus began the journey of India’s finest athlete in the making. She is candid when she speaks to Krishti Khound about her personal and professional wins and as well as her plans for the future.
Ex: Hi Dutee! The whole nation is chanting your name with a certain pride in their faces as Indians. I want to know how do you feel about it, was it a dream always?
DC: My only dream was to get a job for which I knew I had to work hard for it. My sister Saraswati didi (Chand) is also an athlete always inspired me to work towards my goal. Since I am from a family whose monthly income was about Rs 200 a month, you can imagine the struggle we had even to have two meals a day. I haven’t had any other option to get a job since I wasn’t educated sports was my only ambition. In 2012, Jajpur district of Odisha I broke the national record in the under-18 category by clocking 11.8 seconds at the 100m event and again in 2013, I became the first Indian woman to reach the 100m final at the World Youth Championships. I knew I had worked hard but then I realised that dreams do come true. And dreams do change with time. Now my dream is to get a medal in the 2020 Olympics.
Ex: The win for the medals in the last years are truly symbolic, could you throw some light on your journey so far?
DC: The path is never easy and so was mine. I had to cross personal and professional hurdles everyday. When I was consistently good, so people began doubting my gender. Someone complained and the Athletic Federation of India asked me to take a blood test. They kept me in the dark and didn’t tell me that I was being tested for hormones. They are legally required to take my consent, but they didn’t. When they found out that I had high androgen levels, they threw me out of the team. Last year when after my same-sex controversy, people started to say that my career is going into the dark. I was alway trying to do my best. My personal life is my choice and I played for the nation. So my nations always comes first even before my own life.
Ex: You are the first Indian athlete to come out as LGBTQ+ member, how do you think everyone has perceived it especially coming from a country like India?
DC: Yes, most definitely especially from where I come from. Last year when after my same-sex controversy, people started to say that my career is going into the dark. I was always trying to do my best. My personal life is my choice and I played for the nation. You cannot expect s pure my life. I better know with whom I spent my life. After the supreme court declaration, It’s easy to say publicly. Also, I face some problems before the declaration but after that everyone appreciated me.
Ex: We have seen and read your interviews and the fact that you are so outspoken about your life and decisions that it is truly inspiring. Is this who you are?
DC: I am proud of my choices and have no qualms about my identity and sexual orientation. This is who and how I am. Initially, it was a difficult choice but I took it in my stride like everything else in life. Dutee Chand is a normal human being. But people have made me a brand now.
Ex: You have grown up worshiping Usain Bolt, what influence did he have on your career?
DC: No doubt Usain Bolt was an inspiration for all the aspiring athletes. When Bolt broke his records in timings at the same time I also break records in nationals.
Ex: Your preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is the talk of the town and we wish you nothing but the best. What else are you looking forward to?
DC: My focus totally on it for now. I have started my timing speedup training. I workout for 7/8 hours daily and for that. And definitely, have a key interest in joining politics someday.
Ex: You have not very recently tweeted that you want to join politics in the future. Do you think it is a better platform to serve as an administrator?
DC: My family has also been involved in grassroots politics, with my mother being the Sarpanch of our village. From that time I have a dream to join politics to serve people. It is not written anywhere that one cannot join politics while you are playing there were instances of several successful sportsperson who have excelled in both. With politics, you can change the normal standard of peoples.
Ex: It hadn’t been a journey so easy. What would you take from it?
DC: You do not get served everything in a platter, life is full of struggle. And my life wasn’t any less since easy life is no fun. A lesson I learn is that you have to fight in every situation. Ultimately it’s your decision so you have to fight for it nobody else is going to battle it for you.
- A motto you swear by?
Bring maximum medals for the nation
- Your go-to person for every situation in life?
Dr Achutya Samanta. Loksabha MP and Founder KIIT and KIIS
- One tech gadget you are addicted to?
- Your fitness routine?
No oily foods simple lifestyle everyday training
- Your guilty pleasure?